It looks like the Oregon legislature's Land Use Fairness Committee is close to revealing it's fix for Measure 37. So reported a story in the McMinnville News-Register last Thursday, "Measure 37 panel nears 'Camp David' compromise."
That's great. I just hope the proposal does a better job at reconciling opposing views than the Camp David accord ended up doing.
Like they say, once you get general agreement on how to resolve a problem, the devil is in the details. The folks at Loaded Orygun surmise that the consensus will be to limit Measure 37 subdivisions to a fairly small number of houses, like three to five. Torrid says:
The people who didn't show up to plead their woeful case in hearings were the developers and the people with major subdivisions (well, a couple subdivision people did, but they sure didn't sound as sympathetic as the doddering people with 80 acres of scrub "farmland.") It's those people who could wreck the system and forever alter the landscape, and it's those people who (I hope) are sacrificed in the agreement.
Me too. We live close to a proposed 217 acre Measure 37 subdivision. A Washington Post reporter cited our neighborhood's battle against this threat to our groundwater (our area is officially designated "groundwater limited") in a recent story.
He said that Measure 37 has come to be known as the "Hate Your Neighbor Act." That's partly true. But it's more accurate to say that what the people already living next to the subdivision hate isn't Leroy Laack and his partners, but what they're poised to do to irreplaceable farmland.
Recently roads were roughed out on the property. For sixteen years we've driven by the rolling hills that would make a beautiful vineyard or Christmas tree farm. Now there are scars across the hillside.
And chewed-up mud near where a well apparently is being drilled.
To supporters of Measure 37, these are signs of progress. To us and our neighbors, they're indications that the legislature needs to get as down and dirty with its Measure 37 fix as the developers are with the farmland that's poised to become a subdivision.
It wouldn't be right to allow a few subdivisions to be built just because they happened to be the first bad examples of Measure 37's overreaching. Any fix needs to roll the clock back on subdivisions that didn't have a building permit on January 1, 2007, just as Gov. Kulongoski proposed in SB 505.
Measure 37 rolled back the clock on Oregon's land use laws. It's only fair that a Measure 37 fix also roll back the clock, this time on subdivisions that made it through the development approval system just before reform legislation was passed.
The Keep Our Water Safe Committee formed by our neighborhood has already spent $20,000 on fighting a Measure 37 subdivision. There's an evident consensus that large developments like this now should be limited.
Much as Dorothy English was a "poster child" for the problem Measure 37 was intended to correct, our fight has become a well-publicized example of why Measure 37 needs to be fixed.
Dorothy English has gotten what she wanted. Our neighborhood should also. Reform legislation needs to stop the Laack subdivision in its increasingly muddy tracks.